The hockey gods didn’t smile upon the Sunny 94 Central Alberta Midget AA Selects this past weekend, as they came up short during their playoff tournament.
Hosting the South Central Alberta Hockey League (SCAHL) northern conference playoffs in Lacombe at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex, the team had a tough time scoring and finished with a 1-3-0 record – only good enough for fifth in the conference.
“It was not the result we were hoping for, that’s for sure,” said Head Coach Jason Petrie. “We just had trouble generating this weekend, our power play struggled – we couldn’t seem to get going.”
Down two key offensive players, including their leading goalscorer in Kasey Hiemstra, Petrie said the team that was sitting in second in the north conference just a couple months ago, “limped” into the playoffs as the fourth seed.
It was a 3-0 loss to the West Central Tigers on Saturday that put the final nail in the coffin, and officially ended their season.
In the first shift, one of the Tigers took an “innocent” shot from the outside, which deflected off one of the Select defencemen and into the net, giving them a lead which, despite increased pressure by the Selects, would last until the final 20 minutes of play.
Early in the third, Selects winger Kolby Ringdahl appeared to have scored, but the official trailed on the play, and it was waived off after discussion with the linesmen.
“It was a good shot – it was an under the back bar and straight down shot,” said Petrie. “It was tough. It took the wind out of our sails.”
That’s just how things have been going for the team of late, however.
The Selects were still second in the north conference, playing above 0.500, when Hiemstra was put out with an elbow injury, and after that, they went on a bit of a losing streak and finished 15-19-4 in the regular season.
“If you’d have asked me a month ago how our season was going to finish up, I would’ve said we were going to play at provincials – that’s how confident I was. I thought everything was in place to take a run,” said Petrie. “
“If it weren’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t have had any for the last month.”
That carried into the playoff tournament, too.
In their first game against Olds, Petrie said they left a lot of cards on the table, going 0-6 on the power play, and hitting three posts in a 5-3 loss. They played well in their second game – outshooting and outbodying their opponents, but dropped a 3-1 decision to Red Deer Can Pro.
While they finally got a 3-0 win over the Airdrie Lightning, it wouldn’t change their 3-0 loss to West Central. Ultimately, Red Deer Can Pro would win the tournament and be crowned SCAHL northern conference champions after defeating the West Central Tigers in the final 4-1.
Red Deer Can Pro will now face the Medicine Hat Hounds in a best-of-three series for the league championship and a provincial berth.
“I guess the problem is we never peaked, and got it going at the end when it mattered, but the boys tried,” Petrie said.
“They gave a great, valiant effort and worked all the way through… and, as I said in the room to the kids, I couldn’t have been more proud of a group of guys the way they battled all year and overcame a lot of adversity.”